Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Say No to Over Cooked White Meat

It’s an age-old holiday struggle. How do you keep the white meat of your turkey moist while waiting for the dark meat to finish cooking? Well, I have a suggestion for you that will not only decrease your cooking time but also make the dark meat the most popular option. This holiday season why don’t you try removing the turkey legs and stuffing them. It’s easy. I will lead you through each step with photos to demonstrate what to do.

First, using a sharp knife, slice through the skin of the bird between the body and the thigh to expose the flesh.

Next bend the leg toward the backbone of the bird enough to pop the thigh joint out. Cut along the body of the bird, around the joint, to remove the leg. Repeat the process on the other leg.

When you have removed both legs, lay them cut-side up on the cutting board. You should see a line of yellowish fat running down the inner thigh of the leg. Use the tip of your knife to cut along that line down to the thigh bone. Continue to cut a straight line from that point on down the leg. When you reach the ankle joint, slice around the leg to free the skin from the bone.

Use the blade of the knife to scrape the meat away from the leg bones. At the knee joint, carefully use the tip of your knife to free the meat from the joint. Try not to puncture the skin.

You are almost done! The last step is to remove the hard tendons from the leg portion. The tendons look and feel like white “sticks” in the leg meat. I hold the exposed end of the “stick” while running the tip of my knife along the length of the tendon. A little tug should free the tendon after you run your knife the length of it. If you are having trouble pulling the tendons out, try using a pair of kitchen tweezers or pliers.

If you are removing the leg bones the night before, simply cover and refrigerate them until you are ready to put the bird in the oven. For food safety reasons, you should not stuff the legs until you are ready to roast them.

When you are ready to cook the whole bird, lay the boned leg sections out flat on a cutting board. Each leg section should form the shape of a rectangle. Spoon a line of your favorite stuffing down the center on the long side, then roll the stuffed leg into a cylinder.
Using kitchen twine, truss the stuffed leg to hold it together. You start by tying the twine around one end of the leg, then make a loop, twist it and slide it around the leg. Space each loop about 1 to 2 inches apart. Repeat until the whole leg is secure.

Stuff the breast cavity as you normally would. Nestle a little aluminum foil around any exposed stuffing to keep it from drying out. Place the stuffed breast into your roasting pan and lay the stuffed legs on either side. Roast, basting occasionally, until the breast meat has reached 170ºF. By the time the white meat of the breast is fully cooked, the legs will be as well. Slice the breast and stuffed legs and arrange on a platter.

I promise the dark meat will be a hit!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great blog. This is one of my first times commenting on a blog, but couldn't resist. I am passionate about food and eating healthy, local and in season foods. I'm a strong believer that the more you cook and the less processed foods you eat, the less illness you'll have. Besides, wouldn't you rather pay your grocer or farmer's market farmer than your doctor! Keep these great cooking and food tips coming, Erin!
    Kathy in Pescadero